Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

1000 Programs on GenSoftReviews
Almost everyone who has an internet connection recognizes the "star system" of ranking programs and other merchandise. has been doing this for years with reviews generated by actual users of various genealogy programs. What is amazing is that the number of such programs has grown over the years and has now surpassed 1000.

This means that there have been over 1000 different genealogy programs developed. I must admit that I have not kept up with all of them. Time and old age take their toll. Actually, I am way too busy to try all the programs like I used to do. But with some notable exceptions, such as the strange case of programs that are highly rated but no longer supported or available from their developers, the rankings are quite accurate. Low ranked programs have some serious issues. Higher ranked programs have a lot fewer issues. Many programs have a dedicated fan base and some of these fan bases are like the people who are still looking for Elvis. They apparently expect really old programs to continue living long after they are officially dead. is more than another website. It is a real window into the history of genealogy software and the attitudes and opinions of thousands of genealogists around the world. If I were rating genealogy websites, I would give five stars and a place in the Genealogy Website Hall of Fame.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Genealogy and the Courts Continued: Copyright Chaos

This post isn't really series, but from time to time, I address any legal changes that may affect the genealogical community. Sometimes a random court decision about a case that seems to have no relevance to genealogical research or anything else becomes a deal changing blockbuster. The latest controversy involves a case from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The case citation is as follows:

Justin Goldman v. Breitbart News Network, LLC, Heavy, Inc., Time, Inc.,Yahoo, Inc., Vox Media, Inc., Gannett Company, Inc., Herald Media, Inc., Boston Globe Media Partners, Inc., and New England Sports Network, Inc., Case 1:17-cv-03144-KBF, S. District of New York, 2018.

Here is the court's own summary of the facts which includes a footnote.
On July 2, 2016, plaintiff Justin Goldman snapped a photograph of Tom Brady (the “Photo”), Danny Ainge, and others on the street in East Hampton. (ECF No. 149, Goldman Declaration (“Goldman Decl.”) ¶ 2.) Shortly thereafter, he uploaded the photograph to his Snapchat Story.1 (Id. ¶ 5.) The Photo then went “viral,” traveling through several levels of social media platforms—and finally onto Twitter, where it was uploaded by several users, including Cassidy Hubbarth (@cassidyhubbarth), Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning), Rob H (@rch111), and Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter). (Id. ¶ 6–10; ECF No. 120, Defendants’ Statement of Undisputed Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (“Defs.’ 56.1 Statement”) ¶ 28.) These uploads onto Twitter are referred to as “Tweets.”

1 Snapchat is a social media platform where users share photographs and messages; a Snapchat story is a series of photos a user posts—each photo is available for twenty-four hours only.

Defendants in this case are online news outlets and blogs who published articles featuring the Photo. Each of defendants’ websites prominently featured the Photo by “embedding” the Tweet into articles they wrote over the course of the next forty-eight hours; the articles were all focused on the issue of whether the Boston Celtics would successfully recruit basketball player Kevin Durant, and if Tom Brady would help to seal the deal.

It is undisputed that plaintiff holds the copyright to the Photo.
The key to understanding this controversy is that the photo was undeniably subject to a claim of copyright and then used by commercially oriented websites without a license or even the courtesy of attribution.

The court goes on to examine the process of "embedding" a photo in an HTML document. To make this part of the case as simple as possible, the photo at the beginning of this post is "embedded." All that means is that it is used in the context of this post and copied here by reference to another copy of the same photograph. By the way, the photo above is in the Public Domain and not subject to copyright claims.

Apparently, the defense raised was that no actual "photo" was copied and that the "original" was never used. This is a pretty lame defense from my perspective. I would probably have claimed that the "viral" photo had passed into the public domain by virtue of the fact that the "author," here the photographer failed to take steps to protect his copyright from use by millions of people. He could have watermarked his photo with a claim of ownership, for example.

This case has implications for anyone who copies a copyrighted photo because, at least in this early phase of the litigation, the court did not discuss the issue of abandonment.

The discussion by the Judge is a good summary of the status of U.S. Copyright law as it relates to technology such as the internet. However, many of the statements quoted by the Court demonstrate the lack of sophistication of the various judges who are quoted.

It should also be noted that this lawsuit is far from over. The order referenced above is only a decision on part of the case and the final decision or judgment of the court is still a long way off. After the decision is made, the parties could always appeal to the Court of Appeals and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.

If this case is finally decided on the basis of the reasoning set forth by the Court, it will become a landmark decision and a very good reminder to all of us to be extremely careful when copying and using content from the internet.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Personal Blogging is still Fading Slowly Away

I noticed an article in the news stream that indicated that Facebook's traffic is down 50 million hours per day. See "Facebook's traffic is down 50 million hours per day as Zuckerberg demands fewer 'viral videos'." There aren't equally as clear statistics for blogging because the trend is that blogs are becoming almost exclusively marketing vehicles. A not-so-recent article entitled, "52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire You to Blog" makes the statement, "Over the past five years blogging has evolved into a serious online marketing activity." Yes, my blogs are becoming an endangered species.

Of course, you are more than welcome to buy any of the books I have authored or coauthored. You are also welcome to use or purchase any of the programs I mention. But I do not view my blog as a marketing activity. I still present at conferences when I am available. But this year, I am only scheduled, so far, at two very local events. I would be at #RootsTech 2018 this year, were I not volunteering at the Maryland State Archives and working every day at digitizing records so all of you out there will have records to search.

The reality of blogging is that rather than disappearing, it has become the main news and marketing vehicle for what was previously the publishing and newspaper industry. I haven't read a paper newspaper for some time. Although, I did read the paper editions of the Universe, the student newspaper at Brigham Young University while we were there at the BYU Family History Library. I also read the paper edition of the Deseret News' National Edition, the local Salt Lake City, Utah newspaper. I read both because they were free and distributed at the entrance to the Library. I could read both online, however.

Facebook users, especially younger users, are migrating to Snapchat and Instagram. Bloggers have been migrating to Facebook for some time now and will probably follow the lead of the younger users to Instagram. Quite frankly, Facebook has simply become another junk mail outlet as have many of the blogs.

There are still some dedicated genealogy bloggers out there and a few new ones, but they are mostly drowning in a flood of commercial blogs, some of which post dozens of times a day. My blog aggregator,, and my news and blog aggregator,, can both have over a thousand posts listed in a little more than one day. In one sense, blogging is dying from success.

I am no longer actively promoting blogging as a genealogy activity. I do have occasion to talk to genealogical entrepreneurs from time to time, and I do suggest that they use the media to promote their activities and include blogs and Facebook posts, but now the field also includes Pinterest, Instagram, and other such outlets. Promoters or all kinds are also exploiting Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.

Of course, I post to all those outlets. However, my Instagram account is family oriented and not generally public.

Will I keep blogging? I was speculating about the amount of time I might have to blog here in Annapolis, but it turns out that I just work more and do some of the same things I did before coming here. My question was if I was going to work for for over 40 hours a week, what would I do with all my extra time. I guess I am finding out.

We have our five MyHeritage Party Winners

I would like to congratulate the winners of free passes to the Roaring Twenties party after #RootsTech 2018 which is quickly coming up. They are:
  • Bev Bremness
  • J Ray Scott
  • Dave & Manja Midgley
  • David Farstead
  • Linda Lenhard
Thanks to all those who submitted entries. Sorry again, that I won't be there to enjoy this great party. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns: Part Eight

Representation of Thomas Hooker's Settlement of Connecticut
This highly stylized image of early colonial travel and settlements is far from accurate, but it does give an idea of the obstacles facing early travel in the Colonial Era. When moving, the early settlers of America had to carry everything they needed to survive. The least realistic aspect of the above image is the lack of equipment and supplies carried by the people shown. There were no opportunities to seek out local food or shelter when they reached their destination. As roads and settlements increased the wilderness simply moved further west and north.

The main access to the interior of the American continent was by following the rivers upstream. It is no coincidence that most of the major cities in the United States are built along rivers. The most obvious access point is the vast Chesapeake Bay. Technically, the Bay is really an estuary. An estuary is a flooded river valley where the tides from the ocean meet a river stream. Here is a satellite view of the Chesapeake that shows its size.

Satellite (Landsat) picture of Chesapeake Bay (center) and Delaware Bay (upper right) - and Atlantic coast of the central-eastern United States.
Just north of the Chesapeake is the Delaware Bay, another estuary. Some of the cities along these to great waterways are Washington, D.C., Baltimore in Maryland, Dover in Delaware, Wilmington in Delaware, Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and ultimately upriver, Trenton in New Jersey. New York, did not have a huge estuary, but it did have the protected bay and the huge stretch of protected water on the north side of Long Island. Here is another satellite view showing the area around New York City.

New York STS058-081-038
This second satellite image also shows the impact of the Hudson River as a pathway into the interior of the country. The amount of goods and equipment that could be carried by boat far exceeded the capacity of wagons during all of the early history of America.

Accordingly, the migration patterns of American immigrants were governed by geographic reality: mountains and rivers. To begin to understand how your ancestors moved, you need to look to both the mountains and the rivers.

One of the basic motivations for movement from the Atlantic seaboard was the constant increase in population. One major motivating factor in moving to America was to obtain land ownership. Even though many immigrants came as enslaved people or indentured servants, those who came voluntarily were interested in land. Even among the well-known Mayflower passengers, some of the immigrants were not motivated by a desire to have religious freedom but were merchants and craftsmen. There were also some orphaned children and indentured servants. See Mayflower Compact.

It was over a hundred years after the first settlements along the Atlantic Coast before the interior began to be settled. As genealogists, before assuming that our early American ancestors were born in places like Kentucky or Tennesee, we need to be aware of the availability of transportation into these inland areas. One example is the Susquehanna River; the longest river on the East Coast. Here is a map of the Susquehanna River Basin.

By I, Karl Musser, created it - Own work: based on USGS data., CC BY-SA 2.5,
Primarily, because of the access to the interior afforded by the Susquehanna River, in combination with the Ohio River,  Pennsylvania was settled from east to west by about 1830. But to get an appreciation for the impact of migration routes, it is necessary to focus on the time each of the western states was first settled. Here is a partial list of what is considered the first European settlements for some of the states that do not have Atlantic sea coasts.
  • Vermont 1724
  • Ohio 1788
  • Kentucky 1774
  • Tennessee 1768
  • Arkansas 1686
Kentucky and Tennesee were first settled from Virginia. Vermont's first settlers came from Massachusetts. Ohio was settled because of the river systems as was Arkansas. It is important to understand how the pattern of settlement in each of these states continued after the first settlement.

The largest interior town in America, for many years, was Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The main road from Philadelphia to Lancaster was the Lancaster Turnpike. Here is a description from Wikipedia: Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike.
The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, first used in 1795, is the first long-distance paved road built in the United States, according to engineered plans and specifications. It links Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia at 34th Street, stretching for sixty-two miles. However, the western terminus was actually at the Susquehanna River in Columbia. The route is designated PA 462 from the western terminus to US 30, where that route takes over for the majority of the route. The US 30 designation ends at Girard Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia, where State Route 3012 takes it from there to Belmont Avenue. At Belmont Avenue, State Route 3005 gets the designation from Belmont Avenue until the terminus at 34th Street.
Note that the road ran to the Susquehanna River. Genealogical research becomes more manageable as you begin to realize that your ancestors lived in the context of their own history and that movement in the earliest times was dramatically restricted from what it is today.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stories and Histories of Black Mormon Pioneers

My daughter and blogging partner, Amy Tanner Thiriot, in celebration of black history month made a standing room only presented a lecture at the Church History Museum’s series titled, "Evening at the Museum," on February 15, 2018. The above article appeared online on the LDS ChurchNews section of the Deseret News website. Quoting from the article:
Professor Paul Reeve, from the University of Utah, introduced Thiriot as a “thorough and meticulous researcher.” He quoted Thiriot’s own description of her work as having been prompted by “the little known black pioneers of the Utah territory” and said that “theirs are stories that have largely been forgotten, so researching their lives has been like a second emancipation; freeing these men and women from historical obscurity.” 
And while Thiriot’s research can be looked at as an exciting new turn that brings to light truths lost or hidden by history, the quiet and somber manner with which she told the histories of 19 different black pioneers who played various roles in settling the Utah territory created a memorial-like atmosphere during the presentation.
The article is quite long and was merely a summary of the research Amy has done in writing her upcoming book, "Slaves in Zion: African American Servitude in Utah Territory."  The article goes on to comment about the stories Amy told during her presentation:
These stories, and other detailed examples of documents and records uncovered by Thiriot, are just part of what makes her research groundbreaking for the black Mormon community.
Well done Amy. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Old Genealogists Never Die

If you were spending eight or more hours a day digitizing documents this might not be funny.

Win A Free Pass to the MyHeritage RootsTech After Party

MyHeritage has given me 5 complimentary tickets to their annual After-RootsTech party. Here is their description of the party:
Dust off your dancing shoes and fish out your fedoras!
MyHeritage invites you to travel back in time to the Jazz age — The Roaring Twenties — for our exclusive RootsTech After-Party 2018.
1920s costumes are welcome but optional. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of loot (pearls and rhinestones) to adorn yourselves with at the event.
Light food and drink will be served. All guests will receive tickets for the prize raffle.
The event will be held on Friday, March 2, 2018, from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM (MST) at Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

I tried to think of something simple to do. To win one of the 5 tickets, email me a screenshot of a Record Match from your family tree on The first five people to respond as shown by their email time and date stamp will win. Simple as that. Be sure to include your email address and I will send the first five people a link to register. If you don't get a response from me, you did not win. 

Here is a photo of the party from last year. 

Unfortunately, I will not be at RootsTech or the party this year because my wife and I are serving a mission for FamilySearch at the Maryland State Archives as Record Preservation Missionaries. We will be here for a year from last December. Here is another photo of the party last year. 

Oh, my email address is 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns: Part Seven

By Datawheel - Interactive Visualization: Data USAData Source: Census Bureau - ACS 5-year Estimate, CC0,
English: United States Map of Population by State (2015)
   580k - 2.8M
   2.8M - 5.28M
   5.28M - 8.26M
   8.26M - 11.6M
   11.6M - 19.6M
   19.6M - 26.5M
   26.5M - 38.4M
   38.4M - 38.4M

Obviously, many of the families that migrated to New York state in the early 1800s stayed there and By 1820, New York had become the most populous state in the country. See Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by historical population. Today, New York is the fourth most populous state and it is outranked by California, Texas, and Florida in that order. This fact alone shows a definite migration pattern to the west and south.

My Tanner family line moved from Rhode Island to New York, leaving many relatives in Rhode Island who have since spread across the U.S. and around the world. My Fourth Great-grandfather, Joshua Tanner, died in Reeds Corner, Washington, New York. His son, John Tanner moved further north and settled along Lake George in Bolton Landing Warren County, New York. Many of the migrants who moved across the country stayed put and their descendants still live in the place where their ancestors stopped their migration. But my ancestors moved again, several times eventually ending up in Arizona.

These movements were not random, they are based primarily on external influences. Of course, the decision to move is made by the individual, but when hundreds of thousands of individuals and families decide to make the same move, the movement ceases to become random. It is true that some migrations, such as the 1930s Dust Bowl and the Irish Potato Famine are examples of situations that forced migration, but the motivations underlying most migrations are more complex and involve a spectrum of economic, social and cultural incentives. These patterns of movement and the background incentives for their existence are the keys to discovering our ancestors, especially those who are elusive.

Early migrations in North America were limited to the Atlantic seacoast. One early road is called the Boston Post Road. This road was actually a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston. Quoting from a Wikipedia article entitled, "Boston Post Road,"
The Boston Post Road was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts that evolved into one of the first major highways in the United States. 
The three major alignments were the Lower Post Road (now U.S. Route 1 (US 1) along the shore via Providence, Rhode Island), the Upper Post Road (now US 5 and US 20 from New Haven, Connecticut by way of Springfield, Massachusetts), and the Middle Post Road (which diverged from the Upper Road in Hartford, Connecticut and ran northeastward to Boston via Pomfret, Connecticut).
It is likely that the Tanners traveled this road from Rhode Island up to Boston in their trip north to New York State. They would have then traveled north and west to what is now Warren County.  It may also be the case that they traveled up the Hudson River Valley because both Warren and Washington Counties are near that river.

In the early 1700s, the rough post roads were consolidated into what has been called the King's Highway. It was far from what we would call highway today, but by 1750 there was a continuous road from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina. By the end of the 1700s and the Revolutionary War, the road had been extended from Maine to Georgia.

In looking at these dates and places, you can see that travel, except by boat on the ocean, was extremely limited until the end of the 18th Century. It was only when the economic and social forces after the Revolutionary War, including the increase in immigration, began pushing the population off of the coast into the wilderness of the interior.

From time to time, I will see careless genealogical research that assumes an early 1700s connection between people living in New England or the South where children are born in North Carolina and Connecticut or even in Vermont. Given the ability that people had to travel in these early times, these speculative connections are highly unlikely. Travel throughout the 1700s by land was very difficult and if the records seem to show a connection between to disparate geographical areas of America, it is time to reexamine the records and make different conclusions.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#RootsTech Announces Broadcast Schedule

Here is the #RootsTech Streaming Schedule. You might want to check for any changes on the FamilySearch NewsRoom blog. You can watch these broadcasts on No registration is required to view the live streams. All times are in Mountain Standard Time (MST). Check the website for descriptions of the presentations and classes. 
RootsTech Streaming Schedule  
Time (MST)
Class Title
Class Description
Speaker or Speakers
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
9:30 a.m.
Family History in 5 Minutes a Day
Explore 20 ways to effectively do your family history in as little as 5 minutes a day.
Deborah Gamble
11:00 a.m.
DNA: One Family, One World
(Sponsored by Living DNA)
A new project by Living DNA is mapping the world's DNA, building one world family tree through genetics. Gain insight into how this will impact your family history.
David Nicholson
1:30 p.m.
Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections
Step-by-step direction in organizing, preserving, and cataloging photo collections for future generations and identifying, digitizing, and sharing collections using family trees and social media.
Ari Wilkins
3:00 p.m.
Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research
Fire destroyed many US military and civilian service records. Alternative record sources exist to reconstruct service history. Learn how to research World War I and II records.
Jennifer Holik
4:30 p.m.
Wednesday General Session and Innovation Showcase
Steve Rockwood explores where industry giant, FamilySearch, has been and is going. Introduction of the all-new RootsTech Innovation Showcase.
Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International
Thursday, March 1, 2018
8:30 a.m.
Thursday General Session
Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York, a photography and storytelling blog. HONY has built a devoted following of over 20 million fans across several social media platforms.
Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York
11:00 a.m.
MyHeritage DNA 101: From Test to Results
(Sponsored by MyHeritage)
Learn about the MyHeritage DNA service and how the process works, from taking the test to the lab analysis. Learn about MyHeritage DNA's over 40 ethnicities and how to optimize your DNA matches.
Yaniv Erlich
1:30 p.m.
Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Share
Google Photos is a powerful, free app for storing, organizing, and sharing. Learn how to edit and create photo projects and automatically add your photos to the app from digital devices.
Michelle Goodrum
3:00 p.m.
Unlocking Roman Catholic Records
The Catholic Church is essential for uncovering the lives of millions of immigrants from many nationalities. See how findmypast and the Catholic Church are working to make these records easily accessible.
Brian Donovan
4:30 p.m.
A Gift of Life: Who's Writing Your Story?
Only you can tell the real stories of love, loss, forgiveness, and change. Don't leave the task of finding the answers of your life's history to someone else. Take the time to write your life story.
Deborah Abbott
Friday, March 2, 2018
8:30 a.m.
Friday General Session
Scott Hamilton is the living example that good guys CAN finish first! He is an Olympic champion, cancer survivor, television broadcaster, speaker, author, husband/father, and eternal optimist!
Scott Hamilton, Olympic Skater
11:00 a.m.
findmypast's British and Irish Hidden Gems
(Sponsored by findmypast)
Explore some of the wonderful collections that can help you break down your British ancestry brick walls, go back further in your family research, and add untold color and detail to your family story.
Myko Clelland
1:30 p.m.
Finding the Right DNA Test for You
DNA testing is becoming an integral tool, but what is it and what does it do? How can DNA actually help your genealogy? If you are brand new to genetic genealogy, this is the class for you.
Jim Brewster
3:00 p.m.
How Not to Leave Your Genealogy Behind
Nobody wants their genealogy research to end up in a landfill. Hear a few horror stories of genealogy materials destroyed and how you can avoid those mistakes.
Amy Johnson Crow and Curt Witcher
4:30 p.m.
Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch
Learn new skills and techniques used by the experts and lesser known record identification tools and features of the FamilySearch website.
Robert Kehrer
Saturday, March 3, 2018
8:30 a.m.
Saturday General Session
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., host of popular PBS Finding Your Roots series, and Natalia Lafourcadeone of the most successful singers in the Latin America pop rock genre, will keynote this opening session.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Natalia Lafourcade
11:00 a.m.
Civil Registration Indexes of England and Wales
England and Wales national indexes and recent innovations at the General Register Office have opened up new possibilities and completely new indexes.
Audrey Collins
1:30 p.m.
Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA
(Sponsored by Ancestry)
Learn what new tools AncestryDNA has to advance your research and get more out of your DNA results.
Anna Swayne
3:00 p.m.
Pain in the Access: More Web for Your Genealogy
Library, archive, government, and specialized websites have much to offer. Discover these sites and strategies for getting more online data.
Curt Witcher

Monday, February 12, 2018

Black Mormon Pioneer Experiences

My daughter, Amy Tanner Thiriot, will be presenting at the Church History Museum Theater, 45 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, February 15, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the public. Here is the description of the event.
The first black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were a vital part of the early history of the Church. They served missions and shared the gospel. As the Church moved west, they helped build Nauvoo and Winter Quarters and drove wagons across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. Once in the valley, they helped rescue the stranded Willie and Martin handcart companies, built roads and communities, and raised families in the Mormon settlements of the West.
Many of them experienced great tragedies and losses, but they lived lives of service and built a strong heritage of faith for their descendants and the Church. Join us for an evening of the stories of early Latter-day Saints, including Green Flake, Jane Manning James, Venus Redd, Samuel and Amanda Chambers, Thomas Bankhead, and many others. 
Family and community historian Amy Tanner Thiriot specializes in the stories of the lesser-known, early members of the Church. She is the author of a blog series, The Eminent Women of the St. George Temple, and is currently finishing a book on the experiences of the enslaved African American pioneers of Utah Territory.
Amy is a co-writer on my blogs and contributes from time to time. She writes our family blog TheAncestorFiles that is an excellent example of a family oriented genealogy blog.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

From Whence and to Thither -- Understanding Migration Patterns: Part Six

It is important to not get confused by the terms "immigration," "emigration," and "migration." Immigration is the movement of the people coming to live permanently in a country that is foreign to them. For example, someone coming from Ireland or Denmark to the United States. Emigration is the opposite term used to refer to people leaving a country. When you emigrate from your native country, you become an immigrant in the country of your arrival. Migration is used to refer to any other population movements and is a more general term that encompasses immigration, emigration, and movement within a country. Unfortunately, the terms are often confused and sometimes used interchangeably.

Under these definitions, for example, people coming from England (the United Kingdom) during British Colonial times were not immigrants. They were simply moving from one part of their own country to another part by crossing an ocean. On the other hand, the earliest Mormon pioneers were immigrants because the left the United States and went to Mexico.

I have been focusing on the movements of the people within the confines of what is now the continental United States. It is not that other migrations are not important for genealogical research, but I am using the American example because it is, for me, the easiest one to illustrate.

Returning to the Tanner family, we now find my direct line ancestors living in New York around the turn of the century from the 1700s to the 1800s. In moving from Rhode Island, they were joining hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans in a movement from the other colonies to New York state that occurred just after the Revolutionary War ended. At the same time, the flood of immigrants from Europe was beginning to make the cities along the Atlantic coast some of the largest in the world.

My Third Great-grandfather, John Tanner, moved from Southern New York state to settle along the huge lake known as Lake George were he became a very prosperous farmer and businessman. This movement was essentially from a settled part of the country into, what was then, the wilderness. It is over 200 miles to the northwest of the town of Hopkinton, Rhode Island where he was born. The migration pattern, at this time, was to the west and north. Why was that?

In the case of the Tanners, the younger men likely left because of the inheritance practices in effect at the time. The oldest son usually received the bulk of the inheritance, leaving the younger sons without much of an inheritance, i.e. farmland or whatever, to become self-sufficient. John Tanner's father was Joshua Tanner and the youngest son of his father Francis. The older Tanner men stayed in Rhode Island when Joshua and his family moved north. The lack of an inheritance, plus the availability of open land, was a strong incentive to move into the wilderness.

Now, if you are researching your American ancestors, would the fact that so many people moved from the seaboard colonies (states) into the interior help you to understand where to look for your ancestors? In the case of the Tanners, the research connecting John Tanner's family to Rhode Island from New York was done in the early 1900s. But until recently, no serious research had been done about the family in Rhode Island.

When you begin to speculate about your family's movements, be sure to remember to check that there was a way to travel and that the time it took to travel was reasonable. More about this to come.

Now, what about the movement from Rhode Island to the Lake George area? Why north and west? Look at a map. Then, think about the time period. At the end of the revolutionary war, travel north and south along the East Coast was becoming easier due to roads becoming established. But if you look at a topographical map of the U.S. you will immediately see that that there is a significant mountain range just back from the coast. Here is an example from Google Earth.

So where were the roads or travel corridors? Here is the same approximate area with the current roads from Google Maps.

If you study these maps, as I have already pointed out, you can see that the Interstate Highway system runs from Rhode Island to Albany, New York and then Interstate 87 runs directly north along the west coast of Lake George. The key here is that the Interstate system was built along the most accessible routes across the U.S. If you want to trace your ancestors most probably routes, look at the Interstate system. So the most probable route for the Tanners was along what would become Interstate 295, then along Interstate 90 and then north along Interstate 87 from Albany. As I continue writing about the movement of the Tanners across the United States, you will see how they essentially lived along the future freeways in many cases.

You can see the earlier posts in this series here:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What is Intellectual Property?

The idea that what someone thinks or produces in the course of communicating with others can be "owned" has evolved over time into a complex web of traditions, laws, privacy claims and a myriad of other beliefs and restrictions.

Intellectual property is an inclusive generic term that has become current in the legal community to designate any work that is protected by statutory laws such as copyright, trademark, patents and any other such regulations or provisions. Every time genealogists look at a record, document, book, or go online to do research, they are becoming involved in intellectual property and all its issues. Disputes about intellectual property rights sometimes end up in court but surprisingly, very few issues arising in the context of genealogical research have been litigated in any of the courts in the United States. Despite this fact, I have found that copyright issues are commonly the subject of questions and concerns by individual genealogists and even commercial entities that are involved in genealogical pursuits.

What is more common than litigation issues are issues arising from record access and control. The statutory limitations form only a small, but important, part of the overall intellectual property issues confronting a historical researcher.

The concept of "intellectual property" has such a broad application that almost anything containing information or communication of any kind can be and is often included. The entire topic has become so complicated that there are now entire law firms that "specialize" in intellectual property law.

The main issues concerning claims to intellectual property ownership are fuzzy in the extreme. What is and what is not "intellectual property" is the basis for constant commentary by the US courts. What is clear is that in general intellectual property rights such as a patent or copyright protects an item, it will be subject to copying. See TrafFix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc., 532 U. S. 23, 29 (2001). Also, see the following:
The rights of a patentee or copyright holder are part of a "carefully crafted bargain," Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U. S. 141, 150-151 (1989), under which, once the patent or copyright 34*34 monopoly has expired, the public may use the invention or work at will and without attribution.
Many of the issues surrounding intellectual property claims have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court. One interesting case is that of Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 US 23 - Supreme Court 2003. The facts, in that case, are complicated and Supreme Court's opinion is rather long but if you want an idea of the complexity of the issues, you can try reading the decision of the court.

For genealogists, this issue comes up in the context of copying substantial portions of an original work. I have mentioned this resource a number of times, but it is so valuable that it needs to be part of any genealogist's reference material. It is the Cornell University Library's "Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States." This reference is as short and concise as is possible and provides basic guidelines for copyright issues. The main reference point is that before 1923 in the United States there is no protection for works registered or first published in the United States. But remember that every country has its own laws.

Here are a few of the many books on the subject.

Bainbridge, David I. Intellectual Property. Harlow, England; New York: Pearson Education, 2012.
College of Law (England and Wales). Intellectual Property: An Introduction. Guildford: College of Law, 1993.
Engdahl, Sylvia. Intellectual Property Rights. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2010.
Fitzgerald, Anne, and Dimitrios G Eliades. Introduction to Intellectual Property, 2015.
Golvan, Colin. An Introduction to Intellectual Property Law. Sydney: Federation Press in association with Golvan Arts, 1992.
Gregory, Donald A, Charles W Saber, and Jon D Grossman. Introduction to Intellectual Property Law. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 1994.
Johnson, Stephen, and Economist Newspaper Limited. Guide to Intellectual Property: What It Is, How to Protect It, How to Exploit It, 2015.
Spiers, Duncan. Intellectual Property Law. Dundee: Dundee University Press, 2009.
Vaidhyanathan, Siva. Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction, 2017.
Wherry, Timothy Lee. “The Librarian’s Guide to Intellectual Property in the Digital Age: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks.” American Library Association, 2002.
World Intellectual Property Organization. Introduction to Intellectual Property: Theory and Practice, 2017.